Would you like to help us?
Find out more No thanks
Depicted here is a volume of statutes containing the text of the Buggery Act 1533 (25 Hen VIII C.6). The images come from a British Library copy of the statutes printed by Thomas Berthelet (King’s Printer) in 1535 (Pressmark: 506.d.33).
The Buggery Act 1533, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII, moved the issue of sodomy from the ecclesiastical courts to the state. The act did not explicitly target sex between men, as it also applied to sodomy between men and women and a person with an animal. Convictions between men for sodomy were by far the most common and well publicised. Convictions under the Buggery Act 1533 were punishable by death.
For as moche as there is not yet sufficient & condigne punishment appointed & limitted by the due course of the lawes of this realme for the detestable & abominable vice of buggeri committed with mankind or beest. It may therefore plese the Kings Highnes, with the assent of his lordes spiritual & temporal & the Commons of this present parliament assembled, that it may be enacted by authorite of the same, that the same offence be from hensforth adjuged felony, and suche order and fourme of proces therin to be used ageinste the offendours, as in cases of felonie at the common lawe. And that the offenders being herof convict by verdicte, confession, or outlaurie, shall suffer suche peynes of dethe, and losses, and penalties of their goodes, cattals, dettes, londes, tenements, and heredytamentes, as felons benne accustomed to do accordynge to the order of the common lawes of this realme. And that no person offendynge in any suche offence, shalbe admitted to his clergye, And that justices of peace shall haue power and auttoritie within the limittes of theyr commissions and jurisdiction, to here and determyne the sayde offence, as they use to do in cases of other felonies. This acte to endure tyll the laste daye of the next parlyament.
This article traces the journey of the LGBT community from 1533 to today, looking at the battles for equality that were fought and legislative changes made.
Steven Dryden explores three executions under the Buggery Act during the 1800s, looking at how they were reported in the media of the time.